The DigestVideo

Games Of April 2013: Guacamelee!

The title’s punctuation alone tells you this is going to be good.

By John Teti • May 21, 2013

We give Sony some flack around here from time to time, but I also continue to admire the company’s dedication to commissioning offbeat works on the PlayStation 3. Sony has put together an enviable library of indie games, and while Guacamelee! may not be so weird as, say, Datura, it is appealingly idiosyncratic. Anthony John Agnello joins me to dig into this Metroid-like platformer with roots in Mexican folklore.

The Haribo gummy of choice that serves as our digestible today is the “Fruity Frutti” variety—their beef jerky flavor, obviously.

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  • Link The Ecologist

    I just ran into some of those gummi snacks at a friends house, and we were cracking up for a good ten minutes when we noticed that the slogan was, “Kids and adults like it, so.”

    • Drew Toal

      I had the same reaction. John informed me that the other half of the slogan appears below the graphic. 

      • http://mathmanmustdie.blogspot.com/ Mr. Glitch

        Were they carved by gummi artists who work exclusively in the medium of gummi?

        • http://tmaiblog.wordpress.com/ Chalkdust

           Will you two stop saying ‘gummi’ too much?

          (Oh god, is this what we’ve been reduced to?  Verbatim Simpsons quotes?  It’s like the AV Club comments section up in here.)

    • Captain Internet

      Mmm, Gummi Bears! The Soylent Green that’s just great for kids. Take the skin and bones from nearly any higher order mammal, strip the skin and boil the bones, boil further in an checmical solution to break up the collagen, then take add some sugar and flavouring for a delicious result. 

      To be fair, it’s not entirely dissimilar to boiling up a chicken carcass for soup, but it’s still pretty damn creepy to to turn it into brightly coloured teddy bears and feed them to children. . 

      There’s a wonderful video on the process here – my favourite bit is at 1:10 when he points to his own skin to indicate you can make Jelly Babies out of actual babies

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        And if that grosses you the hell out, and/or you’re a vegetarian, you could always go the gelatin-free route.

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          It should also be pointed out that the ever-popular Sour Patch Kids are gelatin-free.

  • Citric

    “Ooze” is a word that should not be associated with food.

    • Fluka

      Nor “foam”.

      • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

        Yeah! What idiot in marketing thought that was a good idea? Foam is never edible. You might argue that the stuff on top cappuccino is ‘foam’, but I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be called ‘froth’.

        • OldeFortran77

          And how about “sour cream”? I sure hope somebody got fired for that blunder, snort!

        • Electric Dragon

          “Foam” is surprisingly common in high end cuisine, where it has the technical meaning of “the price of this meal just doubled”. It’s like “artisan” or “fusion” in that regard.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

        I don’t know what you’re talking about. This mattress is delicious.

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

      Speaking of “ooze,” remember these?

      • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

        That was the first thing I thought of when they read the description. The Gushers folks were smart enough not to use the word ‘ooze’ in any of their promotional material.

      • NakedSnake

         Those were actually pretty good, unlike this abomination: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orbitz_%28soft_drink%29

        • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

          I remember loving the novelty of these as a kid, even though I still hated the taste. I just kinda withstood it, because you know, “it’s neat!”

          • NakedSnake

            I definitely bought into the hype, too. But then whenever I actually drank a bottle of this liquid filled with fairly large slimy particles, I always thought “why did I buy this?”

        • http://www.avclub.com/users/merve,96925/ Merve

          It’s funny how Orbitz was considered an “abomination” but bubble tea remains a popular treat.

          • NakedSnake

            This concept of ‘bubble tea’ is new and strange to me. Perhaps the great mistake that Orbitz’ marketing team made was considering any buzz, even ‘abomination buzz’, to be better than no buzz. Meanwhile, apparently Bubble Tea has been existing all this time, quietly gaining strength and supporters.

        • Citric

          I remember actually enjoying Orbitz, maybe because it was difficult to convince my mom to buy them so there was incentive to convince myself they were delicious.

        • Electric Dragon

          I only know about bubble tea because of a previous edition of The Digest.

  • Citric

    Also, Monster World IV is on all the download thingies, Virtual Console, XBLA AND PSN, pick your poison and get on that

    johnny boy.

    • NakedSnake

       But is it any good?

      • Citric

        It is pretty good, at least from what I’ve played.

      • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

        It’s their only good game, but, yes, it’s very good, is rather innovative, has a bizarre series history, and is a must-play for the console.  Like, it’s better than all but 3 of the Sonic The Hedgehog games, and people seem to enjoy those.

  • Drew Toal

    It’s fun to click on the Datura link and see Hair in his infancy.

    • HobbesMkii

       He was more restrained and clean cut in those days. I’m not sure I fancy his current fly-away, devil-may-care attitude.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I think Johnny Boy is trying to bring back an older usage of the epithet “longhair”, from when it represented creativity, intelligence, and general cultural sophistication.

  • Fluka

    That’s some mighty fine interrupting there, John!

    This game is one of those games that looks so pleasant that it almost makes me which I had a PS3 or Vita.  Until I realize that a childhood without game consoles has let me incapable of performing finely timed precision jumps.  Let me know when they release the turn-based point and click version!

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      A childhood without game consoles means that, rather than playing this, you should just download Super Metroid and play that, instead, dude.

  • zerocrates

    If you construct a delicious enchilada in one game this year, make it Guacamelee!

    If you construct an enchilada in two games this year, celebrate your victory in the game of life.

  • http://gameological.com/author/derricksanskrit/ Derrick Sanskrit

    I wasn’t wild about the meme and game-reference background gags, partially because—as Agnello said—they’d already done this in their last game and will only serve to date the game as a whole.
    My favorite gag in the game, though: after you get to pollo power, there is a tiny room off to the left of the main hub area where there is a giant QR code printed on the wall. If you whip out your smartphone and scan said collection of black and white pixels, your phone will read “Congratulations! You’ve successfully identified and scanned a QR code! Great job!” This immediately became my third favorite QR code-related gag, right behind this one and this one.

    • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

      I imagine it’s, in part, a send-up of Fez’s QR code rooms. 

      Which, as someone without a smartphone who feels left out by that kind of stuff (I’ve already bought your game, now I need a $500 phone to get everything out of it??), I appreciate them giving them some shit about.

      I eventually learned that another puzzle I had already solved elsewhere accomplished the same goal as the QR code, and was the “non-smartphone” version of that puzzle, but there was no indication in the game that the QR code wasn’t necessary. Cue me Googling a web-based QR reader on my laptop, and awkwardly holding it up to my desktop so that its monitor-mounted webcam can try, and fail, multiple times, to capture the code.

      I guess no other game has made me do something quite so ridiculous for no reason, so maybe that’s kind of a feather in Fez’s cap…

      • CrabNaga

        Well the game DOES give you an indication in the form of giving the QR Code room(s) the gold plating. If you’re determining which rooms/puzzles you haven’t solved purely using the map then you won’t ever be led astray.

        I actually had the exact opposite reaction my first time playing the game, as there was a room with an owl statue with a rotating head that always stared at the camera, and for the longest time the game said I had missed a secret in that room. I eventually “solved” the corresponding QR Code “puzzle” and went back to that room only to find that it was gold plated without me doing anything in said room. The actual solution to the puzzle was painted on the floor, and I spent a good 15 minutes trying to input the code to no avail.

        At least it’s less obtuse than the Black Monolith “puzzle.”

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          That monolith is redonk. Did anyone ever find out of there was a genuine, non-brute-force, logical solution to that thing?

      • Cloks

        When I played FEZ, I just took screenshots and sent the clipped QR codes into some decoding websites. It was pretty easy but felt kind of like cheating.

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          Good lord, why didn’t I just do that? PrintScrn+pasting into Photoshop is certainly less work than the laptop-camera bullcrap I was trying – and failing – to pull.

      • Spacemonkey Mafia

        There was a sadly short-lived store in the Twin Cites called Robot Love that had an art show of all QR codes.  Having the cell phone equivalent of a rotary, I found it a little counter-productive to have this extra barrier between yourself and the artists work.
           Also, the QR codes were printed on pieces of paper larger than the screen size of a smart phone.
           I just pretended I was looking at an outsider Americana show of the lost QR quilt patterns of the Great Plains Mennonites. 

        • http://www.gildedgreen.com/ Girard

          MOMA had an art show where you could get extra info on the pieces by scanning QR codes.

          I’m not sure how I feel about an institution charged with making art and culture democratically available requiring you to have a several-hundred-dollar phone to get the full experience, though.

        • Spacemonkey Mafia

          I enjoy making the argument, as well as truly believe that contemporary art is not as opaque and unapproachable as reputation makes it out to be.
             But that argument is often not helped by those who curate the contemporary art scene.
             Granted, smart phones seem to be saturated pretty evenly across the socio-economic spectrum.
             I’d argue that our lack of said technology is more representative of our personalities than our finances.
             Fortunately, we are blessed with the capacity to kvetch about art without any technological aid.

        • George_Liquor

          @paraclete_pizza:disqus According to that link, the QR codes direct you to either a video or a website with more information on the exhibit. Perhaps they went this route due to limited space or resources. 

          I get what you’re saying, but smartphones are quickly becoming as ubiquitous as cell pones in general. These days, carriers are offering low-end/previous-generation smartphones for dirt cheap or even free, so buying a regular cell phone doesn’t make much sense anymore.

    • http://gameological.com/author/mattkodner/ Matt Kodner

      I did the video capture for this one and came across that! I was super impressed, but neither John nor Hair thought much of it. Ho-Hum.

  • Raging Bear

    It might also be lazy humor to go in for the decades-old tradition of naming a character after local cuisine, but I can’t not find it hilarious that Juan’s co-op partner is a mysterious mystical woman called Tostada.

    • https://www.thegamecrafter.com/designers/xyvir-games Xyvir

      Thanks for pointing this out, and that IS an amazing name.

    • Spacemonkey Mafia

      My metric on whether I think a game is well-written or well-presented is how much I stutter when telling my wife about it.
         ”Yeah, I’m playing this really gorgeous, really fun game called… … …Guacamelee…  …With a mandatory exclamation point.”
         It reminds me too much of Junior High School Spanish class, where every would-be smart-ass chose ‘Taco’ or ‘Dorito’ for their Spanish name.
         I know I’m being uptight, but the game itself is so beautifully realized and so thoughtful in the aesthetic, the writing feels like a punt. 

    • http://www.avclub.com/users/ghaleonq,4597/ GhaleonQ

      I hate that I love it, but, hey, Kuri Kinton is never not funny.

  • Penis Van Lesbian

    Was that a deliberately meta-moment with the apology for interrupting immediately followed by another interruption, or is Teti kind of a Quvenzhané?

    • Penis Van Lesbian

      Also, oh god, I love Haribo Starmix and Tangfastics. Have you got those? Can I have some?

      • boardgameguy

         Tangfastics really are the greatest. I posted about them on yesterday’s digest too but no one else seems to like them.

        • Penis Van Lesbian

          Horribly addictive. I tend to polish off whole bags in a single sitting after locking the kids in a cupboard.

  • Spacemonkey Mafia

    It feels that an unintended effect of the Vita’s commercial problem is it is beginning to cultivate the same diversity of esoteric titles as the PS3.  Guacamelee! cross-play is a great feature as well, and hope it becomes more or less de rigueur for all forthcoming PSN games.
       I hope this patchwork amalgamation of qualities is sufficient to keep the Vita solvent.  Of course, it will require a few massive processor-busting titles to justify the cost of the system.
       Very few folks want to pay $300 for a handheld devoted to twee, retro-nostalgia quirkfests.

    • MonsieurEek

      But what about twee, retro-nostalgia quirkfests and Gravity Rush?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Anthony-John-Agnello/1362601810 Anthony John Agnello

        And Soul Sacrifice and Sly Cooper and Earth Defense Force and Persona 4 and Ogarhythm and Dokuro and Ys and most of the best PSP games. 

        I’m not denying the Vita is wildly overpriced, but its library is both excellent and varied.